By Tererai Karimakwenda
11 December 2012
The disgraced former Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, lost another legal challenge on Monday, when the High Court refused to entertain his latest application against the main Anglican Church (CPCA).
Kunonga was seeking to block the CPCA from taking back the properties he seized after he left the church in 2007. This was a move to reverse last month’s ruling by the Supreme Court, which confirmed Bishop Chad Gandiya as the legitimate Bishop of Harare. The court also ordered Kunonga to return all the properties he had taken.
But in a brief ruling Justice George Chiweshe said he had “no jurisdiction to entertain” Kunonga’s latest application and no choice but to dismiss it with costs. This was the second time the courts had ruled against the man known as Mugabe’s Bishop, a reference to his public support of the ZANU PF leader.
In his submissions Kunonga had also tried to politicise the case, accusing the CPCA of calling for sanctions against Zimbabwe and failing to support the country’s indigenisation laws.
Precious Shumba, spokesman for Bishop Gandiya, told SW Radio Africa that this was an attempt by the disgraced Bishop to appeal to ZANU PF sympathies and politicise a matter that should have been purely for the church.
Shumba said: “He attempted to invoke the so-called spirit of Zimbabwe to politicise a purely church matter. Unfortunately his attempts were useless and hopeless as they had no basis in law.
He added that Kunonga has been “forgiven but must physically pay for the transgressions he committed against Anglicans”.
The ex-communicated Bishop now faces the prospect of paying for the CPCA’s legal bills and also paying all the bills that accrued on the properties he had taken. Shumba said: “We are going to continue documenting the magnitude of loss we experienced as a church to ensure that we send a clear message to those who try to deprive us of our right to worship that we have a God who fights for us,” Shumba said
The CPCA says some of the buildings had become brothels and others were being rented out to different churches and schools.
Shumba said Kunonga’s sidekick in Manicaland, Elson Jakazi, had filed his own appeal against the Supreme Court decision that confirmed Gandiya as the Bishop of Harare. Judgement was reserved in that case on Monday.
“They had attempted to go back into church buildings and rectories to repossess properties, but did not have eviction orders. Neither had the appeal been heard. So it has now been heard and we await judgement,” Shumba explained.
The court judgements against Kunonga have been welcomed by the Anglicans, but there is still general suspicion about the fact that the courts are suddenly appearing to abide by the rule of law. Many are also wondering who it is in ZANU PF that has suddenly got it in for the man the party has supported for so long.